Stained Glass Poetry

Alison Grace Koehler is both a poet and a stained glass artist, and her work fuses these disciplines into a unique practice that she calls Stained Glass Poetry. In her performances she composes with glass shards, accompanying herself with both live and recorded recitations of her writing. Her work with both words and with glass is also stylistically related in the elliptical assemblage of fragmental components, creating unexpected juxtapositions, and opening spaces between the narrative elements into which the imagination is invited to fall.

In designing this book, our goal was to bring all these elements of Alison's artistic practice to bear. Photographer Yann Lagoutte contributed a series of immersive photographs, intimately exploring the passage of light through the world of Alison's glass. We then arranged the text of Alison's poems to echo the curved and jagged forms of the glassworks, so that the two would remain in conversation with each other. The photos employed localized light to accentuate the delicate colors in the glass as they emerged from an otherwise darkened background. In keeping with this visual language, we extended the surrounding darkness into black pages, and printed the text in an illuminated off-white, so as to give the impression that the words were also emerging from that same darkness, projected by their own dedicated light source.

Finally, rather than print the title on the front, we decided to cut it out, and place an image of one of Alison's windows on the page underneath, so that its colors would show through the openings in the otherwise darkened cover, further emphasizing the themes that join Alison's visual and linguistic work: the curation of light, the dance with the unpredictable shapes of mystery, and the selective focus on illuminated fragments as they emerge through the unexpected spaces that open up in the dark.

Special limited editions of the book came with a bonus poem, printed over another of Yann's photos, and a shard of Alison's glass on a cord fashioned into a place marker.

You can order a copy of Stained Glass Poetry directly from the author here.